Press Release
September 1, 2006


Senator Mar Roxas has filed a bill to establish a more cohesive framework for economic, financial and social policy formulation to ensure that government data do match and support realities on the ground as felt by the majority of poor Filipinos.

Saying the release of updates on economic and financial data should not be mere presentation of the performance of the economy, Senator Roxas said Senate Bill No. 2439 puts in place a system for government policy formulation that will help attain economic sustainability.

It is easy to churn out data but then, what exactly do these economic data tell us and how can they become more relevant to long-term planning for both social and economic development? Governments credibility suffers when there is a yawning gap between data and realities on the ground, Roxas stressed.

Called Economic Coordination Act, Senate Bill No. 2439 creates a congressional Joint Economic Committee, or JEC, that will convene every quarter to assess the impact of governments economic, financial, and social policy initiatives.

He said the bill seeks to correct a situation wherein economic planners and social policy formulators do not know each others work and priorities. Because they have different constituencies and tend to look at governance from a different lens, their indicators of success or failure do not really present real-life implications of policy decisions made.

The Roxas bill seeks to enhance policy formulation coordination among the National Economic Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

A coordinated feedback mechanism on a periodic basis would enable the government to address economic issues better and to set achievable targets well-supported by data and research, including anecdotal references that can lend credence to government figures, Roxas said.

According to the senator, the NEDA, through the National Statistical Coordination Board, releases updates on the national income accounts on a quarterly basis. The BSP, as the central monetary authority, also prepares data and conducts economic research to guide the Monetary Board. The Senate committees on economic affairs and trade and commerce, which Roxas chairs, have access to these updates but sees a need to view these reports from the broader canvass of poverty alleviation and social reforms.

He noted that the data these agencies release are important inputs to both the private and public sectors because these are used as basis for business and policy decisions, Hence, more than a mere presentation of economic performance, the fundamental objective of the bill is to provide a framework for policy formulation, he explained.

Under the measure, the Joint Economic Committee, co-chaired by the chairpersons of the House of Representatives and the Senates Committees on Economic Affairs, will be the repository of the NEDAs and the BSPs written reports on economic and financial data. More importantly, it will also hear the testimony of economic and finance officials on the merits of their reports and assess the impact of their policy decisions.

The written reports include, but are not limited to a) a review and analysis of recent developments affecting trends in the economy, specifically actual growth and targets of the Gross National Product and Gross Domestic Product; b) objectives and plans of the BSP and NEDA with respect to the ranges in the monetary and credit aggregates, taking into account past and prospective developments in employment, unemployment, production, investment, real income, productivity, international trade and payments, and prices; c) the relationship of the objectives and plans to the budget; and d) report on the fiscal position.

The Joint Economic Committee will meet every quarter and will have a secretariat to serve as its staff. It can invite different sector representatives to attend its hearings so that they gain a better appreciation of the elements that go into economic and social policy setting. In the same manner, economic planners would then have a better gauge if, indeed, there is a trickle-down effect of economic growth.

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